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holiday baking othing says holiday season quite like cookies. Whether sweet and simple or elegant and sophisticated, such treats are a year-end tradition. To help us compile this collection of cookie recipes, we asked you, our readers, to send us your favorites. You responded with more than 250 suggestions. We narrowed those recommendations to 25, which we tested and share today in this special section. Included are some recipes we’d never heard of (Ishki Kishki, Page 8) as well as many familiar types prepared with a twist (Cream Stars, below). In addition, the section boasts 25 Dispatch classics — gems we’ve published in the Food section. Whether you’re young or old, a novice or an experienced baker, there’s surely something for everyone here. Happy experimenting.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009 |

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Additional recipes can be found at DispatchKitchen.com.



Orange Cookies MAKES 4 TO 5 DOZEN A grated orange adds texture to these cakelike cookies. 6 cups sifted flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt

Cookies: 1 cup butter, softened 2 cups sugar 2 eggs, beaten to blend 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with a small amount of water 1 cup sour milk (see Note) 1 whole orange, ground in a food processor

Frosting: 2 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 tablespoons butter, melted Juice of 1⁄2 a lemon Juice of 1⁄2 an orange

To make cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets. Cream together butter and sugar. Add all remaining ingredients. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto prepared sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to cooling racks. To make frosting: Combine frosting ingredients. Drizzle over cookies while still warm. Note: To make sour milk, add 1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 cup milk. Let stand 5 minutes. — Jennifer Ward, Columbus

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Editor’s note: Thanks to all who sent in similar recipes.

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Cream Stars MAKES 3 DOZEN These cookies have been a must at Christmas since the first time I tried them. I found the recipe in Country Living magazine in the early ’90s. It is worth the time and effort. Cookies: 1 cup butter, softened (do not substitute) 1 ⁄3 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon almond extract 2 cups sifted flour Granulated sugar

Pastel Butter Filling: ⁄4 cup butter, softened 3 ⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar 1 egg yolk (see Note) 1 ⁄8 to 1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract Food coloring

Lemon-Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze MAKES 31⁄2 TO 4 DOZEN

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To make cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix butter, cream, almond extract and flour in a large bowl until creamy. Shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour. Cover a plate thickly with granulated sugar. Roll out dough on lightly floured pastry cloth with a floured stockinettecovered rolling pin to 1⁄8-inch thickness. Cut into stars using a 2-inch cookie cutter. Transfer stars to plate with sugar. Turn to coat both sides. Transfer cookies to baking sheet. Prick cookies in 3 places with a fork. Bake 6 minutes or until lightly puffed. Cool cookies on wire racks. To make Pastel Butter Filling: Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, yolk and extract until smooth. Divide filling into thirds, placing each in a small bowl. Tint yellow, green and pink with food coloring. Sandwich the cookies together with filling. Note: This recipe contains raw eggs. There is a slight chance of salmonella poisoning when consuming raw eggs. — Cindy R. Sams, Canal Winchester

Cookies: 21⁄2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 2 cups sugar 2 large eggs

1 container (15 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Grated zest of 1 lemon Glaze: 11⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. To make cookies: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar using an electric mixer, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Add cheese, lemon juice and zest. Beat to combine. Stir in dry ingredients. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie onto prepared sheets. Bake until cookies are golden at the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly then transfer to racks to cool 20 minutes. To make glaze: Combine all glaze ingredients. Spoon about 1⁄2 teaspoon onto each cookie. — Loretta Berrigan, Circleville Editor’s note: Thanks to all who sent in similar recipes.


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3 Vanilla Snowflakes

Vanilla-Chip Maple Cookies MAKES ABOUT 6 DOZEN 2 cups white chocolate chips ⁄2 cup chopped macadamia or pecans

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These cookies, a delicate vanilla cake, are a family favorite. We sometimes slice them in half horizontally and fill them with vanilla icing, but they’re just as good without. These cookies freeze well. ⁄2 cup margarine ⁄4 cup vegetable shortening 2 cups granulated sugar 2 eggs 1 cup milk 1 1

Frosting: ⁄4 cup butter or margarine, softened 4 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 teaspoon maple flavoring 4 to 6 tablespoons milk 1

To make cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening, butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and maple flavoring. Combine flour and baking soda. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in chips and nuts. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on pans 2 minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely. To make frosting: Cream butter and sugar. Beat in maple flavoring and enough milk to make a spreadable consistency. Frost cooled cookies. — Sue Deeds, Westerville

41⁄2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons vanilla Confectioners’ sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Cream margarine, shortening and sugar. Blend in eggs and milk. Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add to margarine mixture. Beat until well-blended. Stir in vanilla. (Batter will be very soft.) Drop dough by round teaspoonfuls into confectioners’ sugar. Roll to coat. Arrange on prepared sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Cool. — Shari Davey, Newark

Lemon-Blackberry Dainties MAKES 11⁄2 DOZEN This is one of my favorite cookies ever. It’s a pastrylike sandwich cookie with lemon curd and blackberry preserves.

Chocolate-Mint Sandwiches MAKES 11⁄2 TO 2 DOZEN 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted, cooled 2 cups flour 10 tablespoons butter, softened 1 ⁄4 cup light or dark corn syrup

2 teaspoons baking soda ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 ⁄2 cup plus 1⁄3 cup sugar 1 bag (13 ounces) chocolate-covered mint patties (such as peppermint patties) 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl with a mixer on low speed, beat the chocolate, flour, butter, corn syrup, soda, salt, egg and 1⁄2 cup sugar until blended. Increase speed to medium. Beat until well-mixed, scraping the bowl often with a spatula. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Roll in remaining 1⁄3 cup sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until set. Immediately turn half the cookies over on the cookie sheet. Place a chocolate-covered mint patty on each inverted cookie. Quickly top with remaining cookies, top side up. Transfer the sandwiches to racks to cool 1 minute. Gently press cookies together so mint patty spreads to the cookie edges as it melts. — Christine Arnold, Columbus Editor’s note: Thanks to all who sent in similar recipes.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 ⁄4 cup granulated sugar plus additional for pressing 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel 1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour ⁄3 cup seedless blackberry preserves (I use Dickinson’s) 3 tablespoons purchased lemon curd (I use Dickinson’s) Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

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In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and salt. Beat until well-combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla. Beat in as much flour as you can, then stir in any remaining flour by hand. Cover and refrigerate until easy to handle, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (you’ll need to get an even number). Arrange 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Press the bottom of a glass (preferably with a pretty pattern on the bottom) into the additional sugar and press balls to flatten to 1⁄4-inch. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Transfer cookies to wire racks. Cool. Spread 1 teaspoon of preserves on the flat side of half the cookies. Spread 1 ⁄2 teaspoon curd on the flat side of the remaining cookies. Make cookie sandwiches by pressing together the jam sides and curd sides of the cookies. Sprinkle tops with confectioners’ sugar if desired. — Teri Ralston, New Albany

| THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009

Cookies: 1 cup vegetable shortening 1 ⁄2 cup butter or margarine, softened 2 cups packed brown sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon maple flavoring 3 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking soda

MAKES 4 TO 5 DOZEN


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4 Lime Zingers MAKES ABOUT 6 DOZEN

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009 |

This recipe is a nice change from a traditional sugar cookie, featuring a little nuttiness and a touch of lime. Cookies: 1 cup butter, softened 1 ⁄2 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons finely shredded lime peel 1 ⁄4 cup lime juice 1 teaspoon vanilla 21⁄4 cups flour 3 ⁄4 cup finely ground hazelnuts

Frosting: 4 ounces cream cheese (do not use low-fat or nonfat) 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar 1 ⁄2 tablespoon lime juice 1 teaspoon vanilla Food coloring

To make cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in granulated sugar until combined. Beat in lime peel, lime juice and vanilla, then flour. Stir in nuts. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough to 1⁄4-inch thick. Cut into 11⁄2-inch squares. Transfer to baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are light brown. Transfer cookies to racks to cool. To make frosting: Beat frosting ingredients with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Tint as desired with food coloring. Frost cookies. If desired, pipe bows in alternate colors to make the cookies look like packages. Alternately, cut the cookies into any shapes and decorate as desired. — Jane Damschroder, Lewis Center

Cherry Balls MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN ⁄2 cup butter 11⁄2 cups confectioners’ sugar 11⁄2 cups sweetened flaked coconut 1

Dash of vanilla 1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained Graham cracker crumbs

Mix butter, sugar, coconut and vanilla together. Place a small amount in your hand, pressing it flat. Put a cherry in the center. Roll the coconut mixture around the cherry to form a ball. Roll in graham cracker crumbs. Store in the refrigerator. — Joanne Wiggins, Marble Cliff

Peppernuts

Honey Cookies MAKES ABOUT 4 DOZEN This is a German cookie recipe. I make it Christmas-y by sprinkling with red, green and white sugar. I use large sugar crystals, which can be found at specialty food stores. ⁄2 cup honey ⁄2 cup milk 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup sugar 1 ⁄2 cup (1 stick) margarine 2 eggs 4 cups flour 1 teaspoon ground cardamom 1 1

1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 ⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg 1 ⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 egg white 1 tablespoon water Colored sugar

Heat the honey and milk in a small saucepan, stirring until honey dissolves. Stir in baking soda. Cool. Cream sugar and margarine on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add flour, spices, salt, baking powder and honey mixture. Refrigerate until firm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper or silicone mats. Beat egg white and water in a small bowl. Using 1 tablespoon for each cookie, roll dough into balls. Place on cookie sheets. Brush with egg white mixture. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. — Brenda Kigar, Delaware

These cookies are part of a tradition brought to American from Russia by Mennonites in the 1800s. I admit, I don’t make these every year because they are so labor intensive. There are whole books about peppernuts, but I always come back to this recipe, originally from my sister who lives in Kansas. Baking peppernuts is a great family activity. Several people can keep busy filling the cookie sheets. The recipe makes a couple of quarts of cookies. 1 large egg 11⁄2 cups sugar 1 cup margarine or butter 2 tablespoons light corn syrup 1 ⁄2 to 1 teaspoon anise oil (see Editor’s note)

1 ⁄2 teaspoon ground pepper 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 ⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves 1 ⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger 2 teaspoons baking soda 3 3⁄4 cups flour

Beat egg, sugar, margarine and corn syrup until creamy. Add spices and soda to creamed mixture. Mix well. Add flour. Mix well. (Dough will be fairly stiff.) Refrigerate dough at least 2 hours or overnight. Working with about 1⁄2 cup at a time, roll the dough into a long rope, no more than 1⁄2-inch in diameter. Place the rope on a cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough until all has been made into ropes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut 1⁄4-inch slices from the rope. Arrange on cookie sheets. Bake 5 to 6 minutes. Alternatively, instead of making ropes, you can pinch off small amounts of dough and form into small balls, no more than 1⁄2-inch in diameter. This method results in rounder, more perfectly shaped peppernuts. — Susan Ortman Goering, Columbus Editor’s note: Anise oil can be purchased at Italian markets and specialty foods stores. We used 1 teaspoon anise extract which worked fine, though the anise flavor wasn’t as strong. If using the extract, you can increase the amount.


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5 Lebkuchen MAKES 31⁄2 DOZEN I have made these since 1960. A friend from East Germany shared this recipe. I mix them on Thanksgiving night, then bake them the next morning and hide them until Christmas. 1 tablespoon ground cloves 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon allspice 3 ⁄4 cup candied mixed fruit 1 ⁄2 cup finely chopped nuts Candied cherries, halved Blanched almond slivers Glaze: ⁄3 cup light corn syrup 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 tablespoon water 1

To make cookies: Combine honey, molasses and brown sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Cool. Stir egg, lemon peel and orange juice into molasses mixture. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir into molasses mixture. Stir in fruit and nuts, except cherry halves and almond slivers. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on a heavily floured surface. Cut into 3-inch rounds. Arrange on baking sheets. Press one cherry half in the center of each cookie. Arrange 3 almond slivers around cherry, like spokes. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1⁄3 cup. Brush on cookies while still slightly warm. Let dry before storing. — Nancy L. Stafford, Dayton

MAKES 4 TO 5 DOZEN 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 cup shortening 1 ⁄2 cup butter 1 ⁄2 cup granulated sugar

1 ⁄2 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon instant coffee 1 teaspoon water 1 egg 11⁄2 cups chocolate chips (semisweet, dark or white) 3 tablespoons shortening

Melt chocolate. Cool slightly. Stir together flour, cinnamon and salt. Beat shortening and butter until soft. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Dissolve coffee in water. Add to batter along with melted chocolate and egg. Beat well. Add flour mixture. Beat well. Cover and chill 1 hour. Shape dough into 7-inch logs. Wrap in plastic and chill overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices. Arrange on baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool. Melt chocolate chips and shortening together, stirring until smooth. Dip half of each cookie in chocolate mixture. Place on waxed paper until cooled and set. — Mindy Davis, Columbus

Editor’s note: Thanks to all who sent in similar recipes.

Kolachkes MAKES ABOUT 3 TO 4 DOZEN

Saucepan Candied-Fruit Bars MAKES ABOUT 6 DOZEN Bars: 3 cups flour 1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter 11⁄2 cups sugar 2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla ⁄4 cup orange juice 2 cups chopped mixed candied fruit

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Glaze: 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 3 tablespoons orange juice

To make bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, soda and salt until well-blended. In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Remove from heat. Add flour mixture and orange juice. Mix well. Stir in candied fruit. Spread in prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, make glaze: Combine orange juice and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl until smooth. Brush glaze over bars while still warm. Cool completely in pan. Cut into bars. — Sally Powell, Upper Arlington

Filling: 1 jar (12 ounces) apricot preserves 1 ⁄2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans 1 ⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon 1 ⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 ⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves

Cookies: 1 cup butter, softened 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened 2 tablespoons sugar 2 cups flour 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon water Sifted confectioners’ sugar

To make filling: Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl. To make cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add granulated sugar. Beat well. Add flour. Beat on low speed until well-blended. Divide dough into thirds. Roll each portion to 1⁄8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out with 3-inch round cookie cutter. Arrange on prepared sheets. Beat egg and water in a small bowl. Brush on edges of cookie. Spoon 1⁄2 teaspoon filling in center of each cookie. Fold in half, forming half-moon shape. Pinch edges to seal. Bake until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks. Cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. — Dan Batdorff, Grove City

| THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009

Cookies: 1 ⁄2 cup honey 1 ⁄2 cup light molasses 1 ⁄2 cup light brown sugar (not packed) 1 egg, beaten 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1 tablespoon orange juice 2 3⁄4 cups flour 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 1 tablespoon nutmeg

Chocolate Coffee Rounds


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6 Cave Cookies

Nut Brittle Cookie Bars

MAKES 3 DOZEN

MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009 |

When I was growing up in Wisconsin in the 1930s and ’40s, my mom made a batch of these every Christmas. They were clear favorites and very easy to make. 4 egg whites 2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon ground mace

1 teaspoon nutmeg 1 can (12 ounces) cocktail peanuts (salted or unsalted)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease and flour them. Beat egg whites, sugar and spices until stiff. Grind peanuts in a food processor. Fold nuts into whites. Drop golf-ball-size spoonfuls of batter onto prepared sheets. Place in oven. Immediately turn off oven. Allow the cookies to “bake” at least 4 hours or overnight. — Charles Marschall, Westerville

These taste like a very buttery, crispy candy bar. Cookie: 12⁄3 cups flour 3 ⁄4 teaspoon baking powder 1 ⁄2 cup chilled butter 2 tablespoons sugar 1 egg, slightly beaten 2 tablespoons evaporated milk

1 cup peanut butter chips Nut filling: 11⁄2 cups sugar 1 ⁄2 cup butter 1 ⁄2 cup evaporated milk 1 ⁄2 cup light corn syrup 11⁄2 cups sliced almonds 2 ⁄3 cup peanut butter chips

To make cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 15-by-10-inch baking sheet. Line with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar until light. Add flour mixture. Mix well. Stir in egg and milk. Stir until it holds together. Press cookie layer evenly in bottom of prepared pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle peanut butter chips over. Maintain oven temperature. To make nut filling: In a 3-quart saucepan, place sugar, butter, evaporated milk and corn syrup. Place over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture boils. Stir in almonds. Continue cooking until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees. Remove from heat. Immediately pour over cookie layer (do not spread). Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle 2⁄3 cup peanut butter chips over. Cool completely in pan. Cut into bars. — Debie Damato, Grove City

Chocolate Biscotti MAKES 2 TO 3 DOZEN This is my favorite biscotti recipe in the whole world. 1 cup sugar 1 cup butter, softened 21⁄2 cups flour (I use King Arthur) 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder or granules 4 large eggs 8 ounces semisweet chocolate 1 ⁄4 cup sliced toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl with a mixer at medium speed, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup of flour, baking powder, vanilla, cocoa powder, coffee powder and eggs. Beat on low speed until blended. Stir in remaining 11⁄2 cups flour by hand. With well-floured hands, shape the dough into three loaves, each 12-by-2inches, and about 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are firm to touch. Cool loaves on sheets on rack 20 minutes. Transfer loaves to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf crosswise into 1⁄2-inch thick slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on baking sheets. Bake until dry, about 25 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool. Melt chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Spread or drizzle each biscotti with chocolate, then sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes. Store cookies in an airtight container or zipper-top bag. — Mary Hayes, Columbus

Meringue Layer Bars MAKES 2 DOZEN 1 cup vegetable shortening 11⁄2 cups brown sugar 2 eggs, separated 1 tablespoon water 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder 1 ⁄4 teaspoon baking soda 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 15-by-10-inch pan. Mix shortening, 1⁄2 cup brown sugar, yolks, water and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Press on the bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. In a mixing bowl with clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with remaining 1 cup brown sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Spread over cookies. Bake 20 minutes. Cool. Cut into squares. — Jeff Ulrich, Worthington


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Buttermilk Bars

Peppermint Candy Canes MAKES 3 DOZEN

MAKES 1 DOZEN These are a family favorite. My mother made these every year for the church dinner, St. Mary’s Smorgasbord. 1 egg, beaten to blend 3 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 3 ⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugars and flour in a bowl. Add butter. Cut in using 2 butter knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Alternatively, use a food processor to combine sugar, flour and butter.) Combine 2 cups of this mixture with walnuts. Press into a 13-by-9-inch pan. Beat egg, salt, cinnamon, soda and buttermilk until smooth. Stir in remaining crumb mixture. Spread over first layer. Bake 45 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bar or diamond shapes. — Martha J. Scott, Carroll

Icing: 1 pound confectioners’ sugar 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon vanilla Milk Red sugar

Cookies: 2 cups sifted flour 2 ⁄3 cup sugar 3 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter, softened 1 ⁄4 cup milk 1 ⁄4 teaspoon peppermint extract 1 cup oats

To make cookies: Sift flour, sugar and salt. Add butter, cut in until coarse crumbs form. Stir in milk and peppermint. Add oats. Mix well. Chill the dough for 1 to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Divide each part into 9 pieces. Roll each part into a rope about the size of a pencil. Shape on a baking sheet to form a cane. Bake 10 minutes. Cool. To make icing: Combine all icing ingredients except red sugar, including enough milk to make a thin icing. Dip canes into frosting then place icing side up on a wire rack. Sprinkle red sugar in stripes in the wet frosting. — Janet Hawk, Powell Editor’s note: Thanks to all who sent in similar recipes.

Pecan Crisps MAKES ABOUT 5 DOZEN My aunt makes these every year. They have become a part of our family’s holiday cookie tradition. 11⁄2 cups flour 1 cup sugar plus additional for dipping 1 ⁄4 cup butter 1 ⁄4 cup margarine

1 egg, separated 3 tablespoons milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup pecans, thinly sliced

Blend flour and sugar. Beat in butter and margarine. Mix egg yolk, milk and vanilla with a fork. Stir into butter mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheets. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared sheets. Press to 1⁄16-inch thickness with the bottom of a greased glass dipped in additional sugar. (The dough must be pressed thin so it will be waferlike; otherwise it will be too chewy.) Beat egg white in a bowl. Brush over cookies. Sprinkle cookies with pecans, pressing lightly into the cookies. Bake until edges are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes (take care not to overbake). — Susan Dolcich, Westerville

Cocoa-Peanut Logs MAKES 2 DOZEN 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1 ⁄3 cup peanut butter

4 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal

Grease a 9-inch pan. Melt chocolate with peanut butter in the microwave. Combine with cereal. Press into prepared pan. Cool completely. Cut into squares. — Jeff Ulrich, Worthington

| THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009

11⁄4 cups granulated sugar 3 ⁄4 cup brown sugar 2 cups flour 1 ⁄2 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes 1 cup chopped walnuts

This is a holiday-cookie recipe from my grandmother. It wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without these.


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This is from my Aunt Mary who lived in Cleveland until she passed away. She would bake from 20 to 30 different cookies every Christmas season, starting the day after Thanksgiving. My uncle would deliver them to relatives and friends around the city before Christmas Eve. Before my aunt’s death, her daughter sent the rest of the family a cookbook of these treasured recipes, many from her Polish heritage. 2 cups sifted flour 1 egg white, beaten until frothy 1 ⁄3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Cream butter and 1⁄4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add almond extract. Stir in flour. Refrigerate until firm. Roll out dough on a lightly-floured surface to 1⁄8-inch thickness. Using a crimped roller, cut into angled rectangles, about 11⁄2-inches-by-1-inch. Transfer to baking sheets. Brush cookies with egg white. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon sugar with walnuts. Sprinkle over cookies. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool. — Chris Killoran, Canal Winchester

to the finer points of recipes By Robin Davis THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

oliday baking is a festive activity, but it can also present frustrations. ¶ For example: What makes cookies crumble when they should be crisp? And what makes them puffy when they should be chewy? ¶ The answers might lie in the recipes — or in how the baker interprets them. ¶ Before beginning to bake, then, you should first read through a recipe — from start to finish. As you do, make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment required.

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Also, be sure to follow a recipe exactly. Unlike cooking a stew or soup, baking is formulaic. When you start swapping ingredients (margarine for butter, Egg Beaters for eggs) or pan sizes, you’re likely to end up with mixed results. To help you excel at baking, here are other guidelines as well as a glossary of terms you should know:

Do’s and don’ts

Strawberries-and-Cream Cookies MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN This is a fairly recent addition to my holiday baking. My daughter loves these so much, she insisted they be part of the 2,500 cookies we baked for her wedding this year. ⁄4 cup sugar 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon vanilla 3

1 tablespoon whipping cream 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 cup finely chopped white chocolate 3 ⁄4 cup dried strawberries, chopped (see Note)

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter on low speed until well-blended. Add flour, vanilla, cream and salt. Blend well. Stir in white chocolate and strawberries by hand. (Dough will be firm.) Refrigerate dough 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough, using 2 teaspoons per cookie, onto prepared sheets. Bake until light brown around the edges, about 16 to 17 minutes. Cool on sheets before transferring to racks. Note: Strawberries can be found at natural-foods stores or ordered from www.nutsonline.com. — Debie Damato, Grove City

 Softened butter should be between 65 and 70 degrees — not room temperature, even when the recipe calls for it. Take the butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before using it. If you forget to take it out, grating the butter on a box grater can soften it quickly.  Measure flour by the “scoop-andswift” method. Unlike brown sugar, flour shouldn’t be packed into a measuring cup. Fluff the flour in the bag or container with a fork. Scoop the flour into the measuring cup (or spoon it in). Overfill the cup, then use the flat edge of a knife to level the ingredients.  Check the date of leavening. Most cookies get their “lift” from baking powder or baking soda. If those ingredients have expired, the cookies will be flat. It’s best to buy such ingredients at the beginning of each holiday season.  To keep cookies from sticking, line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners (available at specialty cookware stores). Even when the recipe doesn’t call for greasing the pan, doing so guarantees that cookies won’t stick.  Don’t place dough on hot baking sheets. The cookies will cook too quickly on the bottom before the top is done. Between each batch, rinse the baking sheets under cold water.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven (unless the recipe specifies elsewhere). If you don’t have

A glossary of terms Most cookie recipes call for butter, flour and sugar, along with other ingredients. But there are several types of each. What’s what? Here’s a guide:  Brown sugar: Dark-brown sugar has a deeper flavor and color. You can use light or dark-brown sugar interchangeably.  Butter: It’s best to use unsalted butter in baking because it has a lower water content and, of course, less salt. If you have only salted butter (often called sweet butter), you might want to cut the salt in the recipe. European-style butter, such as Plugra, has a higher fat content. Using it in baking recipes might yield different — but possibly more delicious — results.  Chocolate: Use what the recipe calls for. Unsweetened chocolate has no sugar. Bittersweet and semisweet have a minimum of 35 percent cocoa solids but usually much higher. Milk chocolate has a minimum of 10 percent chocolate plus the addition of milk and sugar. White chocolate, technically, is not chocolate because it contains no cocoa solids.  Confectioners’ sugar: This is a finer grain of sugar mixed with a small amount of an anticaking agent. It is also called powdered sugar. It cannot be used interchangeably with granulated sugar.  Eggs: Use large eggs, unless otherwise specified.  Flour: Unless otherwise specified, an ingredient list that calls for flour means all-purpose flour. Unbleached all-purpose flour means simply that it is not bleached and will be slightly darker. It can be used interchangeably with all-purpose flour.  Salt: Use table salt if another type is not specified. If all you have is kosher salt, use twice the amount. If all you have is table salt and the recipe calls for kosher or coarse salt, use half the amount.  Shortening: This refers to vegetable shortening. It doesn’t have the flavor of butter, but it typically makes cookies softer.  Sugar: Unless otherwise stated, “sugar” means granulated — or what some people call white sugar.  Vanilla: Use pure vanilla extract when possible; it has the best flavor. If the vanilla you use is double-strength, use half the amount called for in the recipe. robin.davis@dispatch.com

ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

Holly-Jolly Cutouts MAKES 3 TO 4 DOZEN This recipe is a versatile all-purpose cookie dough. It can also be formed into a log, chilled and sliced or rolled into balls and rolled in sugar, then gently flattened on a baking sheet. 2 cups flour ⁄2 teaspoon baking powder 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 3 ⁄4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1

1 cup sugar 1 large egg 1 ⁄2 teaspoon vanilla Decorating frosting, colored sugar, sprinkles

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed and beat in dry ingredients, just until combined. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Working with one disk at a time and keeping the remainder in the refrigerator, roll to 1 ⁄4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies. Transfer to baking sheets. Refrigerate baking sheets with cookies 20 to 30 minutes. Gather scraps. Chill until firm enough to reroll. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Make additional cookies with remaining disk and scraps but do not reroll more than once or cookies will be tough. Decorate cooled cookies as desired.



Molasses Cookies MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN This is a recipe from Betty Rosbottom. In the original, she used the cookies to sandwich vanilla ice cream. But they’re delicious on their own, and the rich spicing makes them appropriate for the holidays. 21⁄2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 teaspoon ground ginger 1 ⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 ⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 cup plus 1⁄4 cup sugar 3 ⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 1 ⁄4 cup molasses 1 large egg

Arrange rack at center position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together 1 cup sugar, butter, molasses and egg until well-blended and the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add the dry ingredients. Beat until well-blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread remaining 1⁄4 cup sugar on a dinner plate. Take a tablespoon of dough, shape into a ball, and roll in the sugar. Place on prepared sheets. Flatten with the bottom of a glass. Continue, leaving at least 2 inches around each cookie, until the sheets are full. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown and have spread and flattened, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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⁄4 cup butter ⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon almond extract 3

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Most successful bakers adhere

time to do this, switch trays of cookies between top and bottom halfway through cooking to ensure even baking.  Turn the sheets halfway through baking time. Give the baking sheets a 180-degree turn in the oven. Even the best ovens have hot spots; this helps with more even baking.

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MAKES 5 DOZEN

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1o No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Lemon Bars

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009 |

MAKES 9 LARGE OR 16 SMALL SQUARES

MAKES 31⁄2 TO 4 DOZEN

Lemon bars have been around almost 50 years. They are tart, sweet and always a hit.

Chunky or smooth peanut butter works fine in this recipe, but be sure to use quick-cooking oats for the best results.

1 cup flour 2 eggs 1 ⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder plus additional for 1 cup granulated sugar sprinkling 21⁄2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 Pinch of salt ⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sugar 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1 ⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour and 1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter, blending well. Pat mixture onto the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan. Bake 20 minutes. Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, baking powder, granulated sugar, lemon juice and salt. Pour over warm baked crust. Return to oven. Bake until set, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle with additional confectioners’ sugar. Cut into squares.

1 ⁄2 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 ⁄2 cup peanut butter 3 cups quick-cooking oats

In a saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring. Bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, peanut butter and oats. Mix well. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Cool.

Rugelach MAKES 4 DOZEN This recipe is from Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft by the instructors at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. 4 cups flour ⁄4 teaspoon salt 12 ounces cream cheese, softened 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened 1

Macadamia Nut White Chocolate-Chip Cookies MAKES ABOUT 5 DOZEN This is a great variation to the traditional chocolate-chip cookie. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 3 ⁄4 cup granulated sugar 3 ⁄4 cup packed brown sugar 2 eggs, beaten to blend 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats 1 cup flaked shredded coconut 1 ⁄2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts 12 ounces white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. Beat butter, both sugars, eggs and vanilla until well-blended. Add soda, salt and flour. Mix just until combined. Stir in oats, coconut, nuts and chips. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until set. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

1 ⁄4 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 egg 2 ⁄3 cup raspberry jam 2 ⁄3 cup chopped nuts and/or chocolate chips Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Sift together flour and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt. Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 5 minutes. Switch to low speed. Add dry ingredients. Beat just until combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl as necessary to blend evenly. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to an even 1-inch thickness. Fold the dough in thirds as for a letter. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Place egg in a small bowl. Add a splash of water. Whisk to combine. Remove dough from refrigerator. Knead until pliable. Separate dough into 3 even pieces. Shape into flattened disks. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface to an 1⁄8-inch-thick circle, about 12 inches in diameter. Spread the dough with a paper-thin layer of jam. Liberally sprinkle with chocolate chips or nuts and cinnamon-sugar. Cut dough pizza-style into 16 triangles. Roll each piece into crescents, starting at the wide end. Arrange on prepared sheets. Brush lightly with egg mixture. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.


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11 Stained-Glass Trees

Raspberry-Shortbread Bars

MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN This recipe is originally from marthastewart.com. 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 1 ⁄4 teaspoon coarse salt 1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking powder 1 ⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 1 cup sugar

1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla 7 ounces (about 30) assorted clear-colored hard candies (such as Jolly Rancher), separated by color and finely chopped

You can use any flavor of jam or preserve you like, but red ones give the bars a particularly festive look. 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 cup sugar

Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl on an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat in the yolks and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat just until a crumbly dough forms. Crumble half the dough into the prepared pan. Press gently into an even layer. Dollop jam over the dough evenly. Use a spatula to spread into an even layer. Crumble remaining dough over the top. Bake 15 minutes. Cover with foil. Bake until set and golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. Cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into bars.

Orange-Pecan Shortbread

Soft Sugar Cookies

MAKES 1 T0 2 DOZEN The log of cookie dough can be frozen for up to three months.

MAKES ABOUT 5 DOZEN For variations, try adding chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate chips or candied fruit to the batter. Or combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over cookies just before baking. You can also ice the cookies with a favorite frosting after they are baked and cooled. 4 cups flour 11⁄2 teaspoons baking soda 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 cup vegetable shortening or butter, softened

2 cups sugar 2 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup sour milk or buttermilk (see Note)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheets. Combine flour, soda and salt in a bowl. Beat shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture to shortening mixture alternately with sour milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until ingredients are combined. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls onto prepared sheets. Bake until set but not brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Note: To make sour milk, add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup milk.

2 large egg yolks ⁄2 teaspoon vanilla 3 ⁄4 cup seedless raspberry jam Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

1

⁄2 cup unsalted butter ⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar plus additional for dusting 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon flour 1 1

⁄4 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest 3 ⁄4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1

Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until light and creamy. Gradually stir in flour, salt and orange peel, beating until light. Scoop dough from mixer into an 8-inch-long log. Place pecans on a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll dough log in pecans to coat. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut dough into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices. Arrange on cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Transfer to rack to cool. Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar.

| THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture. Mix until combined. Stir in vanilla. Gather dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Cut out shapes using a 5-inch tree-shaped cookie cutter. Use a spatula to transfer cookies to prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Using the tip of a paring knife, make a triangular cutout in the center of each cookie. Reroll scraps and cut out additional cookies. Sprinkle candy in a single layer in the cutout of each cookie, avoiding the edges. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 15 minutes. Bake the cookies until the candy has melted and filled the cutout and cookie edges are just beginning to turn pale golden, about 11 to 12 minutes. (Do not let the cookies brown or the candy centers might become bubbly.) Set the baking sheets on cooling racks. Let cookies cool completely on sheets. Use a metal spatula to remove cookies from parchment. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 5 days.

MAKES 2 DOZEN


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12 Key Lime Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies MAKES 21⁄2 TO 5 DOZEN, DEPENDING ON SIZE To make these gingerbread people, press raisins or cinnamon candies into the cutouts for eyes and buttons before baking. Decorate with icing after cookies cool, if desired. 21⁄2 cups flour ⁄2 teaspoon salt 11⁄2 teaspoons cinnamon 21⁄2 teaspoons ground ginger

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009 |

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⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened ⁄2 cup packed brown sugar 1 ⁄2 cup unsulfured molasses 1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 1 ⁄4 cup hot water 1 1

Combine flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a bowl. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, then molasses. Dissolve soda in hot water. Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture alternately with soda mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Beat well. Chill dough about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Working with about 1⁄3 of the dough at time, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1⁄8-inch thick. Cut with floured cutters. Arrange cookies on baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until set and beginning to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 2 to 3 minutes on sheets. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

Neiman Marcus Cookies MAKES ABOUT 9 DOZEN Legend has it that this recipe became public after a woman ate the cookie at a Neiman Marcus in Dallas. She asked for the recipe and was told she could have it for two-fifty. The woman told the employee to put it on her charge. When the bill arrived, she had been charged $250. To get revenge, she gave the recipe to as many people as she could and asked them to pass it on. The tale isn’t true, but the recipe has been passed around, especially on the Internet, making it something of an urban legend. 5 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened 2 cups granulated sugar 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar 4 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 packages (12 ounces each) chocolate chips 1 bar (8 ounces) milk chocolate, grated 3 cups chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place oats in a blender or food processor and blend to a fine powder. Beat butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, flour, oats, salt, baking powder and soda, beating just until blended. By hand, stir in chocolate chips, grated chocolate and nuts. Roll the dough into balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

MAKES 6 TO 7 DOZEN Look for Key lime juice in bottles in specialty foods stores. If you can’t find it, regular lime juice is fine, though the lime flavor won’t be as intense. ⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 1 egg 1 tablespoon Key lime juice 3

1 teaspoon grated lime peel 2 cups flour 1 ⁄4 teaspoon baking powder 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt Confectioners’ sugar

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, lime juice and peel. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix only until combined. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. Using 1 level teaspoon of dough for each cookie, roll dough lightly into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies just begin to brown on the bottom, about 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, sift confectioners’ sugar into a shallow bowl. Transfer baking sheets to rack. Let cookies cool 1 minute. Loosen cookies from sheet with a spatula. Place cookies in confectioners’ sugar while still warm. Turn to coat both sides. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Chocolate-Pecan Squares MAKES ABOUT 4 DOZEN These are very rich, so small squares are all that is needed. Crust: 11⁄2 cups flour 2 ⁄3 cup sugar 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 3 ⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Filling: ⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 2 large eggs 1 ⁄4 cup flour 11⁄2 teaspoons vanilla 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 3 cups chopped pecans 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with foil allowing some of the foil to hang over the sides of the pan. Butter the foil. To make the crust: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter. Cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg. Process until the mixture forms a dough. Press the dough into the prepared pan, using floured hands to make the layer as even as possible. Bake until golden, about 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling: Cream the butter and brown sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the flour, vanilla and salt. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips. Spread the filling over the warm crust. Bake until the top is golden, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use the foil to lift the cookies from the pan. Cut into small squares.


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13 Buckeye Bars MAKES 65 TO 80 PIECES These taste like buckeyes, but without all the work of rolling and dipping. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened 1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 pound (about 31⁄2 cups) confectioners’ sugar 1 package (12 ounces) chocolate chips

MAKES ABOUT 8 DOZEN 1 pound (about 2 ⁄4 cups) finely chopped pitted dates 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup water 1 cup chopped pecans 1 cup vegetable shortening 1

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar 3 eggs, well-beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla 4 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

In a saucepan, combine the dates, sugar and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring, about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans. Chill. Cream shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, salt and soda. Stir into egg mixture, just until combined. Place dough between 2 sheets of wax paper. Flatten dough into a disk. Refrigerate until well-chilled. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll dough on a floured pastry cloth to a rectangle, about 1⁄8-inch thick. Spread a quarter of the date mixture over the dough. Starting at a narrow end, roll up dough, enclosing the filling. Wrap in wax paper. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Refrigerate rolls several hours or in the freezer for 1 hour until dough is very firm. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease baking sheets. Slice each roll crosswise into 3⁄8-inch thick cookies. Arrange on prepared sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Vanilla Sticks MAKES ABOUT 6 DOZEN For those who haven’t made these before, beware that the mixture might be sticky and seemingly unmanageable. But the results are sweet and crisp. Don’t try to make these cookies on a rainy or snowy day because the humidity will not allow the meringue to set properly. 1 pound whole almonds 4 egg whites 1 pound (about 31⁄2 cups) confectioners’ sugar plus additional for rolling

1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 11⁄2 teaspoons vanilla

Grind almonds in a food processor until finely ground. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add 1 pound confectioners’ sugar and beat 5 minutes more, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Blend in the salt and vanilla. Transfer a generous third of the meringue (nearly half) to another bowl to use for icing. To the meringue in the mixing bowl, fold in the nuts. The mixture will be slightly sticky. If mixture is stiff and dry, fold in a little of the meringue from the other bowl. Place nut mixture on a pastry cloth generously dusted with additional confectioners’ sugar. Roll mixture into a rectangle, about 1⁄2-inch thick. Cut dough into sticks about 2-inches-by-1-inch. Transfer to greased baking sheets, placing them close together. Use a small spoon to place a dab of the icing down the center of each stick, using the spoon or your finger to spread it out (the cookies do not have to be completely covered). Let the cookies dry, uncovered, overnight. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake cookies until just beginning to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool. Cut or break apart any sticks that are joined. Cool. Store in an airtight container.

Whoopie Pies MAKES ABOUT 21⁄2 DOZEN These “pies” are actually soft, cakelike cookies with a creamy filling. Filling: 5 tablespoons flour 1 cup milk 1 cup vegetable shortening 1 ⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine 1 cup sugar 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cookies: 21⁄4 cups flour 1 ⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 11⁄2 teaspoons baking soda 11⁄4 teaspoons cream of tartar 11⁄4 cups sugar 2 ⁄3 cup vegetable shortening 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup milk

To make filling: In a small saucepan, combine flour and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat to cool. To make cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets. Combine flour, cocoa powder, soda and cream of tartar in a bowl. In another bowl, beat sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until combined. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets. Bake until set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Finish the filling by beating the shortening, butter, sugar, salt and vanilla until well-blended. Blend in the flour-milk mixture. Beat until filling is the consistency of whipped cream. Spread heaping spoonfuls of the filling between cooled cookies. Wrap the whoopie pies separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate.

| THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009

Melt the butter. Stir in peanut butter. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, a little at a time, until mixture is smooth. Press evenly in a 13-by-9-inch pan. Melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave until melted and smooth. Spread over peanut butter mixture. Cool. Refrigerate. Cut into squares before chocolate is completely set.

Date-Nut Pinwheels


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14 Chocolate-Pecan Biscotti Fudge-Filled Peanut Cookies MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN ⁄4 cup creamy peanut butter ⁄2 cup vegetable shortening 1 ⁄2 cup sugar 1 ⁄2 cup packed brown sugar 1 egg 3

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11⁄3 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 ⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat 1⁄2 cup of the peanut butter with the shortening and both sugars until fluffy. Add the egg. Beat until smooth. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda. Fold the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture until blended. Shape the dough into 48 one-inch balls. Arrange on baking sheets, 1-inch apart. Flatten the cookies to 1⁄4-inch thickness by pressing them in a crisscross pattern with a fork that has been dipped in a bowl of water to keep the tines from sticking. Bake about 8 minutes or until the bottoms are golden and the tops are pale tan. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Meanwhile, in a small nonstick pan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Add remaining 1⁄4 cup peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature or until thickened. To form the sandwich cookies, use about 1 teaspoon of the chocolate mixture on the flat bottom of one cookie. Press the bottom of another cookie against it. Let cookies stand about 1 hour or until the filling is firm.

MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN ⁄4 cup (1⁄2 stick) butter, room temperature 3 ⁄4 cup sugar 1 egg plus 1 yolk 1 teaspoon vanilla 11⁄4 cups flour 1

⁄2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 cup toasted coarsely chopped pecans 1 ⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1 1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla. Combine flour, oats, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate. Shape dough into a log about 12 inches long. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Transfer the log to a cutting board. Slice the log on the diagonal into 1 ⁄2-inch-thick cookies. Arrange biscotti, cut side up, on baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Turn biscotti over. Bake until second side is golden, an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on a wire rack.

Coconut-Lime Stars MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN

Walnut Crisps MAKES 5 TO 6 DOZEN 11⁄2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 ⁄2 cup butter, softened 1 ⁄2 cup vegetable shortening

⁄4 cup sugar ⁄2 teaspoon vanilla 1 ⁄4 cup light molasses 1 cup finely chopped walnuts 3

1

In a bowl, stir together the flour and baking soda. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, shortening and sugar until well-combined. Add the vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with molasses, mixing to blend after each addition. Stir in walnuts. Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap. Shape each half into a 2-inch-diameter log. Wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. Carefully cut the logs into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices about 11⁄2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

⁄2 cup sweetened flaked coconut 11⁄2 cups flour 1 ⁄3 cup cornstarch 1 ⁄8 teaspoon salt 3 ⁄4 cup (11⁄2 sticks) chilled butter, cubed 1

⁄4 cup sugar Grated peel of 2 limes 2 tablespoons milk 1 ⁄3 cup fresh lime juice 1 cup confectioners’ sugar Green sprinkles (optional) 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast in the oven for about 5 minutes or until pale golden, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn. Transfer coconut to a small bowl. Cool. Maintain oven temperature. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cornstarch and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the coconut, sugar, lime peel and enough milk to form a stiff dough. Press the dough into a disk shape. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut desired shapes. Use a spatula to transfer cutouts to prepared sheets, placing them 1 inch apart. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until pale golden. Transfer cookies to racks to cool. Combine the lime juice and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Dip tops of cookies into frosting. Top with green sprinkles, if desired. Let frosting dry.


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15 Mudslide Cookies MAKES 2 DOZEN LARGE COOKIES For those who love chocolate, this is the cookie. The key is beating the eggs until very thick, 6 minutes or longer. The recipe is based on one from Baking at Home With the Culinary Institute of America. 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 7 large eggs 2 3⁄4 cups sugar 2 cups chopped walnuts 11⁄2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Combine coffee and water in another bowl to make a paste. Blend in the vanilla. Melt the unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Gently stir to blend. Remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and coffee paste on high speed until light and thick, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. With mixer running, add chocolate mixture. On low speed, add dry ingredients and beat just until blended. Mix in nuts and chocolate chips. Using a level 1⁄4-cup measure, drop the dough onto prepared sheets, spacing 3 to 4 inches apart. Bake until cookies crack on top but are still slightly moist, about 14 minutes. Cool cookies slightly on baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

MAKES 2 TO 3 DOZEN This recipe is from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich. 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped 2 large egg whites (about1⁄4 cup), at room temperature

⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar ⁄2 teaspoon vanilla 1 ⁄4 cup sugar 3 ⁄4 cup chopped walnuts 1 1

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of barely simmering water or in the microwave on medium until chocolate is nearly melted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir until melted and smooth. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Pour in the nuts then the warm chocolate. Fold in using a rubber spatula until color is uniform. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. The surface of the cookies should look dry and feel slightly firm but still gooey when pressed. Slide the paper liners onto the racks to cool. Cool completely.

Some tips for shipping

Gumdrop Cookies MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN 1 cup vegetable shortening 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups flour 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 2 eggs, beaten to blend 1 cup shredded coconut 1 cup gumdrops (do not use licorice), cut into small pieces 2 cups oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat shortening until light and fluffy. Add both sugars. Beat well. Beat in vanilla. Stir flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with beaten eggs. Stir in coconut, gumdrops and oats. Form the dough into small balls. Arrange on baking sheets. Flatten with tines of a fork. Bake 15 to 20 minutes.

Want to share your goodies with those far away? Here’s advice for shipping:  Use sturdy but lightweight plastic containers to pack the cookies.  Place wax paper between each layer of cookies in the container, packing the cookies snugly so they don’t slide.  Limit each container to one kind of cookie so flavors don’t mix.  If shipping to a warm climate, avoid chocolate, which can melt.  Don’t ship cookies in the same box with nonfood items, such as soaps, lotions or perfumes that contain chemicals — even if everything is tightly wrapped.  Place plastic containers in a stiff cardboard box with a thick layer of bubble wrap or newspapers to give the cookies added insulation during shipping.

— Robin Davis

| THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009

Nonstick cooking spray ⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 ⁄8 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon instant coffee 1 tablespoon boiling water 1 teaspoon vanilla 7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped 3

Meltin’ Chocolate Meringues


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